Home > Going off topic > Rumble Strips Save Lives

Rumble Strips Save Lives

Rumble strips, those ingenious bumps carved at great expense in the shoulder of the road, have been placed there to keep sleepy motorists from careening off into eternity.  I can’t even begin to count the times I’ve picked up my local newspaper and read a harrowing account of Sister Mary Margaret falling asleep behind the wheel of the local church’s bus and being snapped awake by the rumbling of those strips, saving not only her, but the load of nuns and orphans she was transporting.

I don’t mean to make light of this.  Let me rephrase that.  I’m making light of this because, like many of you, I’ve experienced coming close to doing an endo off the handlebars trying to negotiate rumble strips. I’m sure they do save lives.  I’m also sure they endanger lives, most importantly, mine.  And I’m also sure, rumble strips could be done better.  Do they have to be in the middle of the shoulder?  Why not on the white line?  Do they have to be as wide as they are? Or as deep?

A few months ago I sent an email to NCDOT to complain (because that’s what I do).  I received a standard boiler-plate email, generated by a computer no doubt, telling me that the North Carolina Department of Transportation felt my pain and was working feverishly to address the problem.  Days later, by a spooky coincident, the road by my house was repaved and the rumble strips were lovingly replaced just as they had been.

The last thing I want to do is turn The Velo Hobo into a soapbox blog, I’m really happy with it being fluff with no real redeeming content.  I like it that way.  And you, dear reader, judging by the 5,000 or so who visit monthly, do too.

So for the precious few who are still reading this post, if you’d like to learn more about rumble strips visit: Adventure Cycling.   And for the rest of you, who stopped reading after the first paragraph, I hope to have a post with pretty pictures up soon, 

Thanks for dropping by, Jack      

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Categories: Going off topic
  1. arlen
    September 20, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    here in minnesota the rumble strips are either on the shoulder or in the middle of the road…

  2. September 20, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    I’ve given plenty of my own input about rumble strips to NCDOT with little satisfaction.
    I continue to give my opinion though whenever the opportunity arises.

    I had a patient a few years ago who was a DOT road engineer and he new almost nothing about cyclists, bicycles, or bicycles operating public roads. I gave him an ear full of cycling education for 2 or 3 days before he was finally discharged from the hospital. I felt it was my duty!

  3. September 20, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Easiest way to take a perfectly good multipurpose shoulder and turn it into something completely useless. I’d like to see them right on the white line (IE the edge of the lane). At least then, all you’d have to worry about dodging is glass and mufflers if the lane itself is too busy.

  4. September 21, 2011 at 2:49 am

    The first time I ran over’em on my bike, I thought I was going to have a paralytic attack! They are awful. Perhaps good for the motorists, but a huge PITA for the cyclists. I now ride in the lane and avoid the shoulder, unless I am riding along a big highway.

    Peace 🙂

  5. arlen
    September 21, 2011 at 5:34 am

    i also like seeing them right under the painted white line on the shoulder….
    but also i like them in the middle of the road….
    but up here in minnesota i only deal with these rumble strips on state highways…

  6. The Velo Hobo
    September 21, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    Thanks for all the great comments. My fear is that tragedy and litigation are the only things that will move DOT to reform rumple strips. Rumple strips are a barrier. They are a barrier that will not wreck a car (like a guard rail) but they are a barrier none the less. They do serve a purpose. But they are a barrier that will wreck a bike, and bikes and no less a vehicle than a car. Just my opinion, Jack

  7. September 22, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    From The Adventure Cycling E-Newsletter today – http://blog.adventurecycling.org/2011/09/rumble-strip-update.html

  8. July 1, 2012 at 1:34 am

    There’s a Facebook group, Cyclists Against Hazardous Rumble Strips, devoted specifically to this topic.

    Despite solid research on the dangers of poor rumble strip design, installation, and maintenance, traffic engineers are adding these hazards to many prime cycling routes. They aren’t usually doing it out of malice, but ignorance — they don’t ride bikes, they don’t understand bikes, they don’t know they’re doing anything wrong.

    http://www.facebook.com/groups/cahrs/ is a place to go when you need information, allies, or ideas in preventing the installation of dangerous rumble strips.

    • The Velo Hobo
      July 1, 2012 at 4:20 am

      Thanks Joshua, I’ll check it out.

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